Centers & Institutes

  • Urban Action Institute

    The Urban Action Institute is the outreach and community action arm of Worcester State University’s Urban Studies Department. We promote student development and collaboratively address social, political, and economic injustices in our society through collective transformative action that bridges lines of difference and forges community.

    We aim to enable students and community-members of all ages and backgrounds to work for an equitable world. Specifically, we work on:

    • Social Justice. Students work with community partners on initiatives that defend human rights and the struggle for equity across the greater Worcester area, including on issues of racial and economic justice, LGBTQ rights, and diversity.
    • Inclusive Communities. Initiatives that support refugee and immigrant communities' efforts to find a sense of place and belonging in the city. This involves work with Worcester community organizations and institutions to further the city’s efforts to be a welcoming place for immigrants.
    • Collective Good. Builds off of the idea of “the commons”; efforts focused on the expansion and protection of collective resources that are maintained by engaged urban residents for the benefit of communities.
    • Global Citizenship. Forging connections between WSU students and the greater Worcester community to address global issues locally as well as abroad through advocacy, outreach, and transformative action.
    • Intergenerational Solidarity. Bringing younger and older students and community members together on a range of social-change efforts while fostering personal and professional development.
    • Educational Collaboration. Working with students from across the education system to identify pathways to academic success in which they can build leadership and active citizenship skills through mentorship initiatives that emphasize inclusive communities, social justice, collective good, global citizenship, and intergenerational solidarity.

    The work of Urban Action Institute is conducted in different formats: practica, events, speakers and workshops. We also oversee and manage the WSU Teaching Garden and Older Student Registration.

  • Urban Studies Practica

    We invite you to participate in UIA programs through the following Urban Studies practica:

    Garden (UR440-05)
    You will work in the WSU Teaching Garden with students of Chandler Magnet Elementary School. Experiential learning topics include planting and growing, eating nutritious food, and sustainable living. Offered only in the fall semester.

    SNAP Program - Hunger Outreach Team (UR440-03)
    You will participate in campaigns to raise hunger awareness on campus and in the community. You’ll help individuals apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits and staff the SNAP office on campus.

    English Language Learning (UR440-01/02)
    This is an experiential learning opportunity to work with Worcester’s immigrant and refugee population as they strive to integrate in the United States and learn English. Be a tutor and a cultural ambassador as you work with these learners from all over the world.

    Youth Leadership (UR440-04)
    This supports an after-school program at the offices of African Community Education. Be a mentor, provide homework support, and take part in leadership skill-building activities with youth members of Worcester’s African immigrant community. 

    WSU Teaching Garden
    The WSU Teaching Garden is located right across the street from the Ghosh Science and Technology Center at 531 Chandler Street. This is an outdoor classroom that provides many different learning opportunities across all the different disciplines at WSU and within the Worcester community.

    Community groups like Community Connections and Girls, Inc. run summertime leadership development programs at WSU that include work in the garden. Some of our community partners are Chandler Magnet Elementary School, Bet Shalom, and the Regional Environmental Council.

    If you are interested in getting involved with the garden, send an email to
  • Older Student Registration
    Massachusetts residents age 60 and older are entitled to free tuition courses on a space available basis at all public higher education institutions (by state law). The Urban Action Institute administers older student registration prior to fall and spring semesters. Eligible older students register directly with the Registrar's Office for undergraduate courses and the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education for evening and graduate courses for winter and summer sessions.

  • How It Works

    In addition to the tuition waiver granted by the state, by vote of Worcester State University’s Board of Trustees, fees for eligible senior citizens who enroll in undergraduate or graduate classes at WSU are also waived.

    If you are an older student, you:

    • Can register during Older Student Registration, which is usually held the Thursday before the start of classes
    • Must bring one of the following forms of identification: valid driver’s license, senior ID, or birth certificate and proof of residency
    • Are responsible for costs of books and materials
    • May select from day or evening, graduate or undergraduate courses if space is available
    • May matriculate (i.e., admitted as a degree candidate) and then register for courses with our traditional students
    • May choose to audit classes (class work only, no exams), but you must get an “audit only” form at registration
    Instructions for Viewing Courses Online
    1. Visit WebAdvisor to view WSU's online database of classes.
    2. On the bottom of the next screen, under registration, click on Search for Sections (at the bottom of the screen).
    3. On the next screen, select from dropdown menus:
      • Term
      • Search - Day or Evening, Continuing Education, or Graduate
      • Search - Open or Closed
      • Academic level - Select graduate or undergraduate
    4. If you know the subject or general area of study in which you would like to take classes, you can select one of the choices under Subject or Section Type.
    5. If you are interested in viewing all course offerings for the semester you selected, then leave the Subject and Section dropdown menus blank and scroll down to the bottom of the screen.
    6. Now you are ready to click on submit.
    7. A list of the courses you want to view will appear with additional details about each course.
    8. If you want, you can click on the highlighted text to get more information about a course.
    9. Repeat steps to search for additional classes for different times, different academic levels, or different subjects or section types.

    Remember that these classes are only for viewing. You will need to wait until the next Older Student Registration date to register in person. Also some of these classes may be filled with traditional paying students before the next older student registration date, so think about a few courses you may like to take in case your first or second choice is unavailable.

    Note: If you are a matriculated student, you may register for classes prior to the older student registration day.